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Laos, Covering an area of 236,800 square kilometres. In the West the country borders on Thailand and Burma, in the North on China and Vietnam, in the East on Vietnam and in the South on Cambodia. Laos is the only Southeast Asian country without direct access to the sea. Most of the country is mountainous, and where there are no mountains one meets with highland plateaus.

Laos' main artery is the Mekong, which for more than 1,800 kilometres - almost half of its entire length - passes through the country or forms the boundary between Laos and Thailand.

Vientiane, capital of Laos is Asia's biggest village. Busy and hectic in comparison to the rest of the country, it is quiet compared with any other city in Asia. Vientiane, as all of Lao's major cities, is situated on the Mekong river which forms the lifeline of the country. Vientiane is the hub for all travel in the country. The city has a population of 450,000, about 10% of the country.

Vientiane is a city full of surprises. Here you can find fields of rice and vegetables, agriculture hidden behind tree lined avenues. French Colonial architecture sits next to gilded temples. Freshly baked French bread is served next to shops selling noodle soup.

There is little modern in Vientiane. Old French colonial houses are being restored as offices and as restaurants and hotels. There are only a handful of modern buildings which sometimes look remarkably out of place in this quiet capital.

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